French philosopher Nicolas Malebranche wrote, ‘Attention is the natural prayer of the soul.’ If this is true, then Mary Kurtz is a woman who lives her life in prayer, lavishing attention on the land she’s rooted to: the Elk River Valley in the alpine altitudes of northern Colorado, where her family ranch lies. With Apertures: Findings from a Rural Life, she joins the great tradition of Western American literature, conveying the beauty of the land on a scale both vast and intimate. She gives us both the close-ups and the big picture in her crystalline, contemplative essays.

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